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2 years on: Her crusade for women panel chief continues

Her crusade for women panel chief continues
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Her crusade for women panel chief continues

Highlights

It has been two years when Spurthi Kolipaka, a city-based activist started a campaign #WomComMatters seeking a chairperson to head the Telangana State Women's Commission and take up the responsibilities.

It has been two years when Spurthi Kolipaka, a city-based activist started a campaign #WomComMatters seeking a chairperson to head the Telangana State Women's Commission and take up the responsibilities. The campaign was started on August 15, 2018.

The Women's Commission is a de-personalized institution and thus guarantees the continuity of women's rights.This constitutional body vested with powers of a civil court has great potential for intervention.

Sadly, if such structures that are purveyors of change remain dormant, defunct, or dysfunctional according to the purpose for which they were created then we continue to hold up victims in places of further marginalization and crimes.

Sharing about her campaign, Spurthi shares, "#WomComMatters addresses this by spreading public awareness and changing the narrative from victim-blaming (or not) to questioning the functioning of such institutions. We have been in this cause over the past two years."

The campaign aims to ensure fully-functional Women's Commission, starting with Telangana State. They engage in raising citizen awareness and advocating for gender, climate, socio-economic and political justice. The campaign purports to enable and hold accountable institutions like the Women's Commission and stump for a gender- sensitive governance process.

From this point forward, they wish to rephrase our description by prioritizing action along with advocacy. Although they have been involved in various short-term projects, their aim is to generate principled campaigners (25 women and 15 male) by December 2020 to run campaigns that are in coherence with the vision of #WomComMatters, utilize the existing network, and contribute to long-term projects. They are opening up fellowship applications in September, for which interested campaigners can join their campaign.

The need of Women's Commission

Unfortunately, the limited understanding among citizens reduces the importance of such an important body to mere grievance redressal. The Women's Commission is bigger, it has a larger mandate. It is the only body responsible to look into policy matters, investigate unfair practices, monitor functioning of schemes, recommend remedial legislative measures. There is literally so much the Commission can do and recommend to be done.

As per the Women's Commission Act, section 15, there are 15 functions of Women's Commission. The first one reads "Inquire into any unfair practice, take decision thereon and recommend to the government the action to be taken in that matter". This function itself shares about the scope of work of the Women's Commission.

To drive home the importance of the commission, Spurthi refers to the Nirbhaya Fund, a Rs 103.52 crore was announced by the Government of India. She states that only a small percentage of it has been received and spent on Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) which is the pan-India emergency number, 112. There is a lack of awareness related to the helpline.

Referring to the Disha rape case that shook the country, she has raised few questions on the need of a Women Commission in the state.

What are the steps we are taking to empower our women and to tackle such rapist thoughts? What kind of awareness and sensitization campaigns have we launched? Are we empowering our women to call the help lines? Are we ensuring the help lines function smoothly? Are we doing our bit in building trust in the system? Are we engaging with men and smashing misogyny?

"Womens Commission can look into these, carry investigations, commission studies, and recommend policy framework and legislative measures to ensure Telangana truly becomes a safe space for all women," concludes Spurthi.

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